Abbott to choose ministry in coming days

9 September 2013
Sabra Lane
Australian Broadcasting Corporation Transcripts
Mr Abbott and his leadership team will be working on the ministry line-up and policy priorities for the week’s ahead. One challenge is that he’ll have to get rid of two ministry positions and whittle down his number of parliamentary secretaries.
TONY EASTLEY: Mr Abbott and his leadership team will be working on the ministry line-up and policy priorities for the weeks ahead.
Joining us now with the latest is chief political correspondent Sabra Lane.
Sabra, good morning. The new ministry may not be known for days, I suppose. But the Prime Minister elect must have an idea of who he wants and perhaps who he doesn’t.
SABRA LANE: Yes, he would have a firm idea as to who will take what position in the front bench. But most immediately, the problem that Mr Abbott faces is that there is a legislative limit on the number of ministers he can have. And in opposition, he exceeded that. He’s got 32 ministry positions, he can only have 30. So he needs to get rid of two positions there.
Situation’s also similar with parliamentary secretaries. He’s got a few too many, he needs to whittle that down a bit. So he’ll make those choices over the days ahead and of course they’re waiting too for the final count of Indi, where the spokesman for industry, Sophie Mirabella, is in a bit of trouble there.
TONY EASTLEY: What are the policy priorities for Mr Abbott in his first couple of weeks?
SABRA LANE: He will have been given a blue book by the public service, a briefing for the incoming government about all the issues that he needs to know about, and also his policies. So he’ll be going through that.
But also they’ll be looking to implement their promises. Getting rid of the carbon and mining taxes for example, they’ll be working on that within days. But he still faces the problem here of the current Senate make-up won’t pass those things and the new Senate is going to be pretty tricky to deal with as well.
But also the other key policy promises – the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, for example. The Coalition wants it to stop writing new loans. The Greens though have advice saying that they can’t do that, that they’ll need parliamentary approval for that to happen.
But there’s also a long list of other things. The Coalition promised white papers on energy, on reforming Commonwealth State relations, on the northern Australia development policy, for example, tax and defence. But these things won’t take weeks to do, they’ll take months. These things will take maybe 12 to 18 months to achieve.
And of course there are other policies as well that they’ll have to get cracking on. The new business plan for the NBN. Plans to reduce the public service based on their policy public service numbers will start going down from the 1st of October. So there are a number of things that they’ll have to get working on.
TONY EASTLEY: Sabra, the Electoral Commission, it’s busy counting and rescrutinising results this morning. In some cases it’s a matter of just a few hundred votes. Will that take some time?
SABRA LANE: Yes, and in some cases it’s even less than a hundred votes. Tony, we know in the New South Wales seat of Barton and the Victorian seat of McEwen for example. In Barton there’s just 62 votes that separates the Liberals and the Labor candidate, the incumbent Labor candidate. And in McEwen in Victoria it’s just 73 votes.
So the Australian Electoral Commission will go through the process today of counting votes, of rescrutinising and of course the postal votes, the huge numbers that we saw – millions. They will go through, check off the names of those postal votes, then they’ll start counting them. They’ve been bundled I believe in bundles of 253 votes. So they’ll start uncracking those bundles and start counting those as well.
TONY EASTLEY: A long day ahead for many of the party scrutineers. Our chief political correspondent, Sabra Lane.
Courtesy of The Australian Broadcasting Corporation